Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Details

The L.A. Times reports more new details on the nature of the proposed strike settlement.

The tentative deal came after two weeks of talks that culminated in a marathon bargaining session Friday that was attended by News Corp. President Peter Chernin, Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger and Writers Guild of America negotiators David Young, Patrick M. Verrone and John F. Bowman.

Progress had been made in previous meetings on payment for work sold online, but Friday's session saw a breakthrough on the most contentious issue: compensation for the free streaming of films and TV programs over the Internet.

Representatives of the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, declined to comment, citing a media blackout.

Attorneys from the studios and the guild were meeting over the weekend to discuss contract language for the proposed agreement, which would need to be ratified by the union's 10,500 members. Even before a vote by members, the strike would probably be called off if board members strongly endorse the deal.

There are some issues that have yet to be resolved, including defining what qualifies as promotion on the Internet. The debate centers on the extent to which networks can run video clips and other materials on their websites to promote TV programs before paying writers.

The directors Guild deal, however, stirred a debate among striking writers. Many complained that the directors' contract offered meager residuals on shows that were streamed free on advertising-supported websites. Another criticism was that the directors' deal limited the union's jurisdiction over shows created for the Web at a time when online entertainment is burgeoning.

That complaint was echoed a few days ago by the Screen Actors Guild, whose leaders publicly disparaged the directors' contract.

On Friday, however, studios offered some key concessions to ease those concerns and keep the talks on track. Those included more favorable pay terms for streaming than those offered to directors. Studios also offered "separated rights" provisions for shows created for the Web, ensuring, for example, that writers would receive extra compensation and credit for online shows that spawn TV pilots, two people close to the talks said.

The agreement was negotiated on the studio side by Chernin and Iger, who had been designated by the heads of the other studios to negotiate on their behalf.

That stood in contrast to previous sessions with the writers in which top media executives weren't at the bargaining table and were led instead by Nick Counter, president of the producers association, and labor relations executives from the major studios.

Having done the heavy lifting, Chernin and Iger will now step back and rely on labor relations executives to formalize contract language this week.

Guild negotiators Young, Verrone and Bowman on Monday are expected to brief the union's 17-member negotiating committee and board of directors on the proposed contract.


So, it looks like once the incompetent Nick Counter of the AMPTP was sidelined by Iger and Chernin progress was able to be made.

I wonder how quickly Battlestar Galactica could get back in production once everyone can go back to work?

5 comments:

ProgGrrl said...

Aha, so it seems that Counter's backward 80s ways weren't helping, and they brought the hardliner studio heads in to negotiate themselves.

I wonder if the SAG's very high profile, very public solidarity helped get things moving.

Anyway, I hope it works!

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